Archive for September 28th, 2009

On being a quilt scribe…

Hi everyone – was beginning to wonder if this new post would get done tonight. We have had high winds all day, causing a 4 hour loss of power. Everything seems to be up and running again. So here we go…

When I signed up to be a scribe for our quilt show judges, it was with  some apprehension…afterall, judges are the “quilt police,”  – that is their job! They go through a lot of training to achieve their certification. Any nervousness on my part was quickly dispelled early Friday morning when we met…our judges are knowledgeable, obviously enjoy what they do and are eager to share tips and feedback. With over 300 entries, we quickly went to work.  Large work area tables were set up & covered in sheets. One area was for the actual judging and the other tables were for staging. Runners were assigned to bring new pieces to the tables and then organize the quilts that had completed the judging process.

We had 2 judges and the quilt categories were divided accordingly. At the tables I worked at, there were 2 scribes and 2 other guild members who handled each quilt  – holding up or turning back each entry for the judge. My “sister” scribe and I alternated recording on the comment sheets which worked well and allowed time to complete each form. Our job? To record each comment by the judge accurately. Over the years these comment forms have continued to evolve and this year were quite easy to work with. Below is a copy of one of my own.scan0001

The judges were so positive about each quilt – always finding a feature (s) that gave the quilter encouraging feedback. They recognize that whether a quilter is an accomplished and experienced artist or just starting out – that particular quilt represents energy, time, thought and preparation and has great value to its maker. The quilt is part of her (or him in some cases – we had some wonderful entries from men this year!) The suggestions for possible improvement were always made in a very tactful and “non-discouraging” manner.  As you can see by the comment written under “areas that might benefit from improvement,” I need to work more on removing any marking lines. This was an area that received comments on a couple of my other entries also. So this will be something I will focus on in the future. Maybe I need new glasses??? I sure didn’t notice anything prior to turning the entries in!!

Receiving close scrutiny were #’s 8 & 9 – both relating to binding. It is absolutely essential that the binding be done correctly. Neatly mitered corners with tiny stitches closing off the miter on the front and back; binding that should be filled completely to the edge of the quilt and finally, the binding, when turned to the back of the quilt, should be hand stitched down with very small stitches. The judge would take the binding and actually pinch it together – if there was any gap, it was noted. We learned that poorly applied binding is one of the biggest No-No’s!

The other major notation involved # 3 – any long, straight edge – such as inner border, should be straight, not wavy. Straight as an arrow!

One great little “tip” for times when you may have used too light a thread in sewing blocks together – Perhaps a little gentle pressure might reveal those light stitches in contrast to say, a black background…use a black pigma pen to dab the threads and hide them.  New to machine quilting? Try using a “busy” background or one with a slight texture to it.  Same goes for your choice of backing…a woven or slightly brushed finished just buries those beginning stitches. Stripes are so big right now & can make a huge impact in a binding or border. Applied flanges also add interest to a piece when used next to the binding edge or further in on a secondary border. And it sure catches the judges eye quickly if not done correctly…loose or wobbly, not connected at the corners…big mistake!

I found it so interesting to watch this process and seeing how  a judge must put aside such things as personal color preference – to look beyond a color combination that may not always appeal to the viewer, but to see great workmanship or creativity. Being a scribe was time well spent & I have set some new goals for myself. The first being, to slow down and enjoy the process…and to work at those “might benefit from improvement” areas. In the meantime, I will keep my own comment sheets nearby as a reminder. So, how did I actually do? Well, I was pleasantly surprised…a Blue ribbon, 2 2nd place ribbons, a 3rd and 3 Honorable Mentions. I didn’t expect all of that. And I came away with some new found knowledge…

Throughout this week, I will try to post some of the photos of our quilt show – we had some wonderful entries in addition to other things going on both days. Plan to visit with me again and as always, your comments are so welcomed and much appreciated.

Take care and…

Always take time to stitch…



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